Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Australian Catholic Church mourns a holy and gentle pastor

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the death of Bishop Joseph Angelo Grech, Bishop of Sandhurst, Victoria, at the age of 62.

Bishop Joe Grech took ill on 22 December with a recurrence of a blood disorder. His condition deteriorated on Christmas Day, and he died peacefully in St Vincent’s Private Hospital Melbourne with Archbishop Mark Coleridge and Fr Maurizio Pettena CS, as well as family members and close friends at his side.

Maltese-born Bishop Joseph Angelo Grech was born in 1948 and ordained to the priesthood in 1974. He was installed as the sixth Bishop of Sandhurst on 27 April 2001.

President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Archbishop Philip Wilson today paid tribute to Bishop Joe as an exceptional pastor.

“My brother Bishops and I are deeply saddened by the death of Bishop Joe Grech. Bishop Joe has been a wonderful member of the Episcopal Conference. He has made a tremendous contribution to the Church in Australia because of his deep faith and spirituality, which has been shown especially in the zeal with which he dealt with issues of migrants and refugees and his outreach to young people. He has also shown a wonderful support and commitment to Charismatic prayer groups in this country”, he said.

Bishop Joe’s commitment to the people of the Diocese of Sandhurst was that of a man with a deep love for humanity and a great enthusiasm for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Bishop Joe is quoted as saying: “I love Jesus Christ and want everyone to have the same opportunities to know and love him as I do.”

Bishop Joe was the Bishops’ delegate for Youth and Young Adults and for Migrants and Refugees, and he served in these roles with joy and a deep compassion.

Bishop Joe frequently spoke out on the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in Australia, and he matched these words with pastoral action, through his involvement in the establishment of services in remote detention centres.

Young people around Australia will feel particularly keenly the loss of Bishop Joe whose enthusiastic manner, unique and charismatic style of preaching and gentle pastoral sensibility helped many young people encounter the spirit of Jesus Christ.

Further details and funeral arrangements will be provided as they come to hand.

Eternal rest grant unto him and may perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.